Hello everyone and welcome back to the blog.
Today I want to talk to you about shoulder impingement injuries. I recently had the bad luck of experiencing a shoulder impingement injury. Well I say recently it’s been something that I’ve struggled with for the better part of a year. It’s only the last month or two that I have actually gotten to a point where I don’t feel my shoulder with every move and it’s only been the last month or two that I’ve really improved strength and gotten to a point where I can fully go back into training again. I hope through this post I can help you, if you are struggling with this, to speed up your recovery process, to maybe understanding it better and to prevent it from happening ever again.
So what is a shoulder impingement injury? it’s simple really. Essentially what it is is a muscle being pinched between two bones in your shoulder. Usually it is one of the rotator cuff muscles that gets pinched when lifting your arm above a certain point. Why does this happen? In my experience there are two main reasons why something like this happens.
One, weak muscles in certain areas cause your shoulder joint to not function correctly because it is being pulled out of position by the opposing muscles of these weak muscles.
Two, tight muscles cause your shoulder joint to be pulled out of position not because some muscles are weak but because these muscles are overly tight. In the human body you get opposing muscles. Take for example the bicep and the tricep. When the bicep is working i.e. you are doing a bicep curl the tricep switch off for your arm to be able to actually bend in that direction. This happens all around the body. Take for example your shoulder joint since we are talking about your shoulder joint. Your pectoral muscles will be the opposing muscles for your rotator cuff muscles. Thus, when you have tight pectoral muscles your rotator cuff muscles tend to switch off because according to them your chest is constantly working or your pectoral muscles are constantly working. This then forces your shoulder joint into a position that is not ideal. It pulls your shoulder joint out of its natural alignment. Which then causes your rotator cuff muscles to be pinched when you lift your arm a certain way.
Right, now we’ve covered how it happens or rather the 2 most prominent ways in which it happens let’s talk about how to fix it. So this is a simple process it is a lengthy process. It is a lengthy process because you have to teach your body to work the right way, you have to teach your body to activate the right muscles when doing a certain movement. Think about it this way, if you want massive biceps you will have to do loads and loads of bicycles and it’ll take you months to build these massive biceps. The same applies to fixing the shoulder impingement injury. Really it’s not an injury, we call an injury but it actually isn’t really an injury, it becomes one if you don’t address it.
How do you actually fix it?
Well, first you need to know what it is that actually causes your impingement. It doesn’t really need to be either or you can just do all the exercises and that will cover whichever it is. So, I will tell you what I’ve done to improve my shoulder impingement situation.
First things first, stretch everything. Start by stretching your pectoral muscles. For those that don’t know jargon that is your chest muscles. stretch these as often and as long as you can along with stretching your shoulder in general and your biceps.
The next step is to start teaching your shoulder to work the right way, to start teaching your body to activate your rotator cuff muscles when you move your arm in an overhead position.
There are many ways to do this, my favourite way is by using a system called crossover symmetry. crossover symmetry is a system developed by a baseball player that consists of crossed over elastic bands that you pull in different directions and shapes using your arms and your shoulders. There are ways to mimic this without having the crossover symmetry system. These include but are not limited to, using light dumbbells, using cable machines in Commercial gyms, or using gravity when you have nothing else. I will quickly cover a couple of options through text which might be difficult to follow, but if you are reading this and need a hand or need more advice please feel free to contact me on Instagram @leonbfit or through the comments of this blog. I will then do my utmost to show you what I do and what I did to solve this.
Using dumbbells. Take a very very light dumbbell, lay on your side with your elbow on your rib cage and your arm bent at 90 degrees. Relax your arm so that the dumbbell touches the floor comma from there left the dumbbell up keeping your arm 90 degrees until it is parallel to the wall. Do this with both Arms 3 sets of 15 to 20 or 30 reps. You can also do the following. Standing, take a dumbbell in both hands, a light dumbbell, then while keeping your elbows bent at 90° lift your arms to the side until your elbow is shoulder height. Do the same amount of reps and sets as for the previous exercise.
Using gravity when you have nothing else. Lay on the floor with your face down, make a fist with your arms down your side and try and put your thumb up to the roof by externally rotating your arms. This means twisting your arm without bending so that your thumb never points to your body if that makes sense. I will try to explain external rotation better, while standing palms open fingers spread out, point your thumb to the wall.Your arm is now in external rotation. If you point your thumbs to your body that put your arm in internal rotation. I hope this makes sense. Continuing with the exercise. As your arm is in external rotation, move your arm from the side of your body all the way to above your head without your arms touching the floor. Or without your hand touching the floor. If this is too difficult for you there is another option. Laying flat on the floor, put your arms so that your body forms a T. All you have to do now is left your hand off of the floor multiple times. Once you have done three sets of 15 to 30 reps move your arm to as high as you can above your head and do the same. Realistically you could do this in any position between tight against your body and all the way above your head while facing down. the more positions between that range of motion you hit, the better your rotator cuff muscles will function.
I hope this helps you with your shoulder impingement. I hope you learnt something from this and I hope that you at least in some shape or form enjoyed this blog. If you did please let me know in the comments or on Instagram, or even if you did not, please do the same. I look forward to hearing from you. If you have a specific topic that you would like me to talk about please let me know, if I have not experienced that topic myself I am fairly certain that either a very good friend of mine or a family member have, and I will pick their brains and try and find out as much as I can to help you out. Thanks again for reading this, until next time I see ya.